Happy 150th birthday, Canada.
The Caesar is Canada's national cocktail. It's a mix of tomato and clam juice, vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Typically it's garnished with a big stalk of celery, or sometimes a pickled aspargus, but skewered mozzarella balls, beef jerky, bacon, pizza slices, oysters or entire mini hamburgers have been known to adorn the drink (gallery here).
The Caesar was invented in my hometown of Calgary in 1969, the same year that my mum moved from Switzerland to Canada.
And she was in good company. Immigration from Switzerland to Canada really began in the late 1800s, when the Canadian Pacific Railway hired three dozen Swiss guides to help set up mountaineering tourism in the Rockies. They had built luxury hotels along the train line like the Banff Springs and later the Château Lake Louise, and they wanted to attract tourists with activities like hiking and mountaineering.
It was the Swiss guides who really developed mountaineering in Western Canada, not only by breaking the trails and doing the initial mountain ascents, but also by encouraging proper climbing technique and avalanche safety. In the fifty years that the Swiss guides worked for Canadian Pacific, there was not a single climbing fatality, which was attributed to their precision and know-how.
The Swiss embassy in Canada published a small book on the first Swiss in the Rockies, which can be read here.
Today, almost 150,000 Swiss call Canada home, with just under seven thousand in Calgary alone. One of the best butcher shops in Western Canada, Valbella, was founded by a Swiss immigrant and he keeps his fellow ex-pats stuffed full of Bündnerfleisch, Cervelat and Schüblig.
Canada's Rockies have been described as 50 Switzerlands in 1, which has surely chased away homesickness in many long term Swiss ex-pats like my mum, who has lived in her adopted land for decades. She likes her Caesar garnished with cervelat.
Photos in this post thanks to honourary Canadian Sam.
salt and pepper
1 shot vodka
Rim your glass with lime and salt and pepper.
Fill with ice cubes.
Add the vodka, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
Fill with Clamato juice.
- You can make your own Clamato, I've done it! Just add clam juice from cans of clams to tomato juice.
- As for hot sauce, I like Tabasco or Sriracha, but any will suffice.